Presented at the 55th Venice Art Biennale ( 2013) at the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, San Marco, Ron Arads’ “Last Train” is an interactive work in which the London-based creative has designed a Steinmetz diamond ring which features the precious stones in an ‘X’ formation.
‘In every train ride there is a lot of love and hate on the panes of windows,’ Arad said of his inspiration. ‘They are almost invisible but when you apply light to them then you discover a word or drawing.’
Perhaps the images and words he was engraving spoke of the trying times and difficulties our society is currently facing; or maybe the man was longing for the past and trying to express his personal struggle in order to regain some sense of power through creative means.
But why was Ron Arad so taken by this image?
Maybe because artists too feel that History is stealing some vital force from them?
Maybe because artists recognize in the neutrality of their surroundings a hidden fury, a threat which we all ignore at our own peril?
Maybe because artists trace in the rigidity of the tracks, in the precision of the hours of departure and of arrival, a dynamic of anonymity and authority they wish to escape
The Last Train is Ron Arad’s response to Steinmetz Diamond’s initiative and commission to create a work of art incorporating diamonds.
Arad’s piece is about the strength of the raw material rather than as a symbol of value and adornment, about the way diamonds have often been, since the advent of glass panes in the 16th century, used to etch messages of love, hate, rebellion or pain.
From Elizabeth I who scratched love vows on bottles and jars with her ‘promise ring’ or ‘scribbling ring’ (in which the diamond would be fitted pointing outwards) to Robert Burns who scratched poems on glass panes to thousands of train travellers who scratch the windows with their anger, their love and their dissent.
The ring is a powerful cross of bold diamond studs with a somewhat unrefined aesthetic.
Arad explained … ‘I am not a jewellery designer or stylist, so the purpose of the ring implied the look,’ he says. ‘It is designed as a cross and the diamond at the junction is the one that is doing the work.’
For Last Train, Arad worked with Steinmetz to design a diamond ring that also works as a drawing tool then invited several of ‘friends’, to produce works by ‘scratching’ on a pane of glass which is mounted onto a prototype human fist linked to an iPad app.”
The cast of Arad’s fist, armed with an Arad designed Steinmetz diamond ring echoed their every stroke, etching their image onto the glass.
Watching a cast of Arad’s fist, armed with an Arad designed striking Steinmetz diamond ring, poking through a black cloth, scratching glowing lines onto the glass pane, is a fascinating, mysterious performance.
Ron Arad and Javier Mariscal drew live during the press preview.
Ai Weiwei also scratched remotely from Beijing.
Rather than stick to the notion of jewellery as simply a form of adornment, Arad has approached diamonds in the way that the great jewellery houses do – as a great base material from which to create wondrous objects.
‘My interest is not in the beauty or the value of diamonds but in the strength of the material. I’m not sure many have been seduced by the strength of diamonds, but it is indeed that property which has led to the creative development of this project.”
About Ron Arad
Ron Arad was born in Tel Aviv, 1951. He was educated at the Jerusalem Academy of Art and the Architectural Association in London.
In 1981 he co-founded the design and production studio, One Off, with Caroline Thorman. This evolved into Ron Arad Associates and Ron Arad Architects.
Arad’s constant experimentation with materials and his radical re-conception of form and structure have placed him at the forefront of contemporary art and design. He cross-references the fields of sculpture, design and architecture consistently avoiding categorisation.
His work has recently been exhibited in solo exhibitions in New York’s MOMA, Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Barbican in London. Recent projects include Design Museum Holon in Israel, Mediacite in Belgium, Singapore Freeport and Vortex in Seoul.
Summer 2011 saw the launch of Curtain Call, Arad’s latest sculptural installation made of silicon rods creating a canvas for film, live performance and a fusion between art and audiences.
In 2011, he was awarded the 2011 London Design Medal for longstanding contribution to design and the city.
About Steinmetz Diamonds
Steinmetz Diamonds is an internationally recognised name in the world of diamonds with varied expertise in cutting, manufacturing, distributing, marketing and retail of special diamonds as well as diamond jewellery.
In its more than 70-year journey, Steinmetz has created some of the world’s rarest and finest diamonds including the De Beers Millennium Star 203.04 carat D Flawless, the La Luna 200.07 carat D IF, and the Heart of Eternity diamond 27.64 carat Vivid Blue.
A diamond that bears the Steinmetz mark has been specially cared for at every stage of its journey – from the rough mineral found deep in the earth to its transformation into a stellar diamond.
Only a master craftsman can visualize the hidden beauty of a diamond in the rough and reveal it in its ideal form.
It is the similarity in the creative process of art and diamonds that led to the Steinmetz collaboration with Ron Arad.
Last Train is a celebration of this creative process with the diamond becoming the artist’s paintbrush. Ever since the advent of glass panes in the 16th century, diamonds with a point cut were used to etch messages of love, angst, rebellion or pain. In the 21st century,
Last Train adds a creative twist to this age-old practice by introducing technology in the etching of glass paintings.